The School-to-Prison Pipeline

By: Rodrigo Muñoz

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What is the pipeline?

The School-to-Prison Pipeline is an important issue that has affected many students around the United States. There are people who have debated and discussed whether the pipeline actually existed or if it was just made up in order to better explain why certain individuals in the country ended up in prison as a result of a long history of wrongdoing. It stands in the way of students going to college and receiving a degree as well having a successful career. According to several experts, this pipeline is very much true and really does have an impact on student performance not only in primary and secondary schools, but also in colleges and universities. According to an article by the American Civil Liberties Union at, the pipeline is described as a “disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.” Students, especially the most at-risk are being pushed out of the classrooms, and most times for things that could be handled without the use of police officers or the court system.

What causes this pipeline?

There are several factors that have led to the school-to-prison pipeline. One of the factors is that schools are failing to provide all of the adequate tools for a students’ success. Whether it is insufficient funds for equipment and textbooks, a lack of qualified teachers or even overcrowded classrooms, these are some things that put underprivileged students in a hole, deeper than they already find themselves in. Other factors include zero-tolerance policies, which crack down hard on any kind of offense, as well as policing in the hallways, metal-detectors in school entrances and exits, and even alternative schools.

Other Pipeline Causes

Also, some factors outside of the classrooms that have a large effect on students falling in the school-to-prison pipeline is bad parenting as well as economic and social status. According to researchers, children who come from poverty, primarily minority groups already are at a disadvantage. The environment that they have been raised in doesn’t give them the best chance to succeed in life. Then, they end up going into the schools with their problems and the schools react with the various precautions already stated. It is a cycle that has happened for many years and it is one that underprivileged students seem to not be able to get out of.

what are some solutions?

If there could be any solutions to the school-to-prison pipeline it would first have to start at the home. Even if certain ethnic groups have lived different lives full of poverty, parents can still have a positive impact on their child’s life. If parents gave their children more love and attention, then even in the toughest of situations, the children would be happier and have that support and strength from home that is very necessary for their overall achievement. As far as inside the school goes, some solutions to the pipeline could be less zero-tolerance policies and less police and court involvement. Teachers and school officials should be able to handle their students, not with harsh discipline but with patience and great decision making. Students must be treated like they are not criminals, and they need to be encouraged to succeed. With a positive environment both at home and at school, students hopefully will perform better and there will be no such thing as the school-to-prison pipeline.

Here is a chart from that also helps in understanding possible ways to combat the school-to-prison pipeline.
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